Revelation 20:1-15: Understanding the Two Resurrections

By: Robert Hunt – Feb. 12, 2015
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I never knew there was so much confusion about the timing of the two resurrections until I had seen several people on Christian forums struggling to understand them.  Many believe the righteous dead will be resurrected along with the wicked unbelievers.  Many others believe the righteous dead will be resurrected when Christ returns, and that the wicked unbelievers won’t be resurrected until after Christ’ millennial reign (1000 years).  So I was thinking it might be helpful if I broke these down, in order to shed more light on this topic.  Hopefully some will be able to grasp a better understanding.  Let’s begin with scripture.

Daniel 12:1-2 (KJV) – And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
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In the passage above, Daniel is given limited knowledge about the resurrection.  We can see that there are two resurrections if we look closely enough, but I’m not sure Daniel gathered that much.  However, he may have noticed that many that slept in the dust of the earth shall awake, but not all.  He probably would have noticed, however, that some shall awake to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  There’s really no way to know what Daniel was thinking at that time, because he was then told to shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased (Dan. 12:4).  Now let’s continue.
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Acts 24:15 (NKJV) –
I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”
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In the verse above, the apostle mentions a resurrection of both, the just and the unjust.  On the surface, it appears that both will occur at the same time.  And this is what many believe will happen, while many others do not believe they will both occur at the same time.  Those that don’t believe both will occur at the same time have a good reason, as we shall see shortly.  But first, let’s look at what John said, who was quoting Christ in the passage below.
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John 5:28-29 (KJV) – 
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
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In the passage above, Christ said the hour is coming when all who are in the graves shall hear His voice.  However, Christ also mentioned that there are, two resurrections.  He called the first the resurrection of life, and the second the resurrection of damnation.  If there was no more information about this subject, it would appear that both of these resurrections would occur simultaneously.  But let’s not forget Daniel’s prophecy.  Remember, Daniel was told to shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro,  and knowledge shall be increased.  We already know that Daniel did not have a full understanding.  Then centuries later, Christ came and told His disciple’s almost the same exact thing that Daniel was told as well.  However, it should be noted that when Christ told His disciples about the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation, this was (before) they had received the Holy Spirit.  And this was also (before) they knew anything about reigning with Christ for 1000 years.
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Sometimes Christ would not tell His disciple’s more than their worldly minds could understand because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit.  It was not until several years later that this knowledge of the resurrection was increased.  The new knowledge would not be known until the book of Revelation was written.  And it was John who later received the revelation of Christ on the Isle of Patmos, who wrote much more information about the two different resurrections in chapter 20.  And this new knowledge changes everything.  If you want a better understanding of the two resurrections, you can read about them below.
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Resurrection of Life (Just or Righteous):
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:1-6 (KJV).
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Resurrection of Damnation (Unjust or wicked unsaved): And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:7-15 (KJV).
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Now we know that the first resurrection will occur 1000 years before second one occurs.  The righteous or just will be resurrected when Christ returns and they will reign with Christ for 1000 years.   The wicked unbelievers will not be resurrected until after the thousand years are completed, when they will be judged at the great white throne.  Those whose name’s are not found written in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.
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Only the dead in Christ will be resurrected when Christ appears in the clouds (Matt. 24:30-31, 1 Thes. 4:16-7).  This first resurrection includes both Old and New Testament saints who have died; the elect who are alive and remain until the rapture will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51-52 ), and then every martyr killed after the rapture, which are the saints that will be overcome by the beast (Rev. 6:9-11, 13:7, 14:13, 20:4-6).
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Note: New Testament martyrs killed before the rapture will be resurrected with the dead in Christ.
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Many of those who believe both resurrections will occur simultaneously, also believe the judgment of nations, when Christ returns at the second coming to separate the sheep and goats is the resurrection of the unjust or unsaved.  They assume the goats are the resurrection
of the wicked unbelievers simply because they are cast into the lake of fire.  However, there is no indication whatsoever, that the sheep and goats are resurrected.  Both groups are living on the earth when Christ returns.  The sheep will enter into the millennial kingdom in their mortal bodies.  The goats, which includes the beast and false prophet, the kings of the nations and their armies that gather against Jerusalem, and everyone that takes the mark of the beast will be cast into the lake of fire.  Remember, only the dead in Christ will be resurrected at the first resurrection.  The rest of the dead will not be resurrected until after the thousand years.
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Thank you for visiting my blog.  Feel free to share this with friends and you can also leave a comment below as well.  My mission is to prepare as many as possible for the soon return of our Lord and Savior.  To God be the glory!

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